To provide social security to the huge section of unorganised workers in the country, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government is planning to extend the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme to 393 districts
by December 2016.
The move aims to cover 30 crore workers and their families across all the areas of the 393 districts. Currently, there are 7.5 crore workers under the scheme.
In the ESIC scheme, the government provides full medical care to the insured person and his family. There is no ceiling on the treatment. Earlier this year, the ESIC benefits were extended to construction workers who are prone to accidents and sickness. A senior government official said
“This would enable them to avail benefits of complete medical care (from primary to tertiary medical care), as well as a range of cash benefits in times of exigencies of employment injury, death, disablement, maternity and unemployment.”
In the meeting chaired by Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, the ESIC board decided to conduct surveys of 271 districts where ESI scheme has not been implemented so far.
Also, bed strength of ESIC hospitals and new infrastructure for health services may be increased by 50 per cent.
“To begin with, ESIC will provide primary care to insurance medical practitioners and secondary and tertiary care through the facilities already located in earlier notified pockets,” said an official. The official added that gradually, new dispensaries and hospitals would be developed based on the geographical requirements.
Taking another step, it has been decided that ESIC will directly run the health services in all the states and states would not have to bear the cost of medical expenses.
An official said:
“It was decided to set up a sub-committee of ESIC for working out the modalities for setting up of a new structure in states in the form of a subsidiary corporation with representation from state government, the Centre as well as employees’ and employers’ organization.”
According to latest estimates, the unorganized sector accounts for 82.7 per cent of the total labour force with a significant number of workers engaged in low income generating activities.